Catching Sunbeams: reflecting the living dynamic in our data sets
29 December 2017 (online)
In illness, the patient’s ‘systems-disturbance’ is reflected in an, often complex, array of signs and symptoms. For the homeopathic practitioner those symptoms represent the criteria for the selection of a suitable ‘systems-stimulus’. However, the process of matching a complex dynamic with a complex stimulus requires a method of analysis which provides immediate access to data on treatment indications. In modern clinical homeopathy we are faced with the uncomfortable fact that many of the treatment indications in our traditional sources are poorly or inconsistently verified. It is always a pleasure, therefore, to examine new proposals for improvements to our prescribing data, which potentially provide a consistent framework for cycles of clinical verification.
In contrast to modalities and ‘leading symptoms’, the pathogenic information and regional affinities of our medicines are relatively straightforward to establish. Homeopathic pathogenetic trials and toxicological reports often yield a number of replicable signs, or objective localized disturbances. These can be collated together under a stable descriptor in the repertory (e.g. eruptions, desquamating).
However, both illness and provings alike, also generate functional disturbances which are often phasic, paradoxical and transient. Many primary disturbances are characterized by unstable homeostatic adjustments, with heightened physiological responses to, for example: heat, cold, pressure, movement, posture etc. In illness, tiny modal adjustments in our physiological responses, which are imperceptible in the healthy individual, become accentuated – often in one polar direction (e.g. much more sensitive to local cold), or the other (e.g. much more sensitive to local heat). Sometimes these homeostatic accentuations are modal in both directions (e.g. chill alternating with heat), often they express themselves predominantly in one direction, sometimes in a phasic or periodical pattern.
Many acute illnesses are characterized by transient alternating modal responses in both directions, whereas subacute and chronic illnesses often leave the patient with a persisting change in one polar direction (e.g. persistently>for motion). Different remedies are associated with contrasting disturbances which drive the subject persistently toward one pole of a modal response or another. The ‘genius’ of the remedy is often represented by the way it alters the dynamic behaviour of the patient/prover: particularly in the shift they experience in their sensitivity to local, or general conditions (so-called modalities). We might use the term ‘polar skew’ to describe the degree to which a remedy or illness tends to push the patient toward one pole of a reaction, to heat, cold, pressure etc., or the other.
For many homeopathic prescribers the Repertory is an important decision support tool. The discriminatory power of each analysis is based (1) on the sum of symptoms: i.e. a numerical comparison of the total number of signs and symptoms matched to each remedy; (2) on the sum of grades: ie the sum of the ‘association scores’ between a clinical feature in the patient and the same feature in the materia medica of each remedy, and more recently (3) the polarity score: available to users of certain computerised versions of Bönninghausen’s Therapeutic Pocket Book.
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- 3 Rutten L., Frei H. Frequently occurring polar symptoms assessed by successful cases. Homp 2012; 101: 103-111.
- 4 Frei H. Polarity analysis, a new approach to increase the precision of homeopathic prescriptions. Homp 2009; 98: 49-55.